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Favrile

Written by: Mark Doty | Biography
 | Quotes (1) |
 Glassmakers,
at century's end,
compounded metallic lusters

in reference
to natural sheens (dragonfly
and beetle wings,

marbled light on kerosene)
and invented names
as coolly lustrous

as their products'
scarab-gleam: Quetzal,
Aurene, Favrile.
Suggesting, respectively, the glaze of feathers, that sun-shot fog of which halos are composed, and -- what? What to make of Favrile, Tiffany's term for his coppery-rose flushed with gold like the alchemized atmosphere of sunbeams in a Flemish room? Faux Moorish, fake Japanese, his lamps illumine chiefly themselves, copying waterlilies' bronzy stems, wisteria or trout scales; surfaces burnished like a tidal stream on which an excitation of minnows boils and blooms, artifice made to show us the lavish wardrobe of things, the world's glaze of appearances worked into the thin and gleaming stuff of craft.
A story: at the puppet opera --where one man animated the entire cast while another ghosted the voices, basso to coloratura -- Jimmy wept at the world of tiny gestures, forgot, he said, these were puppets, forgot these wire and plaster fabrications were actors at all, since their pretense allowed the passions released to be-- well, operatic.
It's too much, to be expected to believe; art's a mercuried sheen in which we may discern, because it is surface, clear or vague suggestions of our depths, Don't we need a word for the luster of things which insist on the fact they're made, which announce their maker's bravura? Favrile, I'd propose, for the perfect lamp, too dim and strange to help us read.
For the kimono woven, dipped in dyes, unraveled and loomed again that the pattern might take on a subtler shading For the sonnet's blown-glass sateen, for bel canto, for Faberge For everything which begins in limit (where else might our work begin?) and ends in grace, or at least extravagance.
For the silk sleeves of the puppet queen, held at a ravishing angle over her puppet lover slain, for her lush vowels mouthed by the plain man hunched behind the stage.



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